Entering softball state tournament play, the wish list was short for Ashland American 9- and 10-year-old All-Star manager Brad Hamilton: win the first game.
Ashland American broke out the bats in the fifth inning to beat Marion County, 7-2, in the first round of the winners’ bracket on Sunday. The All-Stars will take on Russell County today at 6 p.m. at the Washington County Little League fields in Springfield.
According to Hamilton, it’s the first time an Ashland All-Star 9-10 softball team had won a state tournament game.
“I’m excited for the girls. They played their butts off,” Hamilton said. “They were really, really nervous to start the game, but they kinda loosened up and started hitting the ball.”
Emma Latherow provided a huge lift off the bench with an RBI single and a double. Kaythan Baer and Kenzi Robinson also each had a pair of hits. Camryn Cassidy supplied a double and Lauren Spears smacked a triple.
Ashland American never trailed in the contest, but Marion County tied it at 1-1 after a costly error in the fourth.
Robinson, though, kept the score intact by pitching well in the circle.
The offense then responded with three runs in the fifth frame and three more in the sixth.
Robinson tossed a complete game. She gave up two hits, walked three batters and struck out seven.
Marion County pitcher Maggie Overstreet held the Ashland hitters at bay for four innings. She tallied 12 strikeouts.
Hamilton said Tabitha Cassidy’s tough-hop bouncer to second base, on which she reached on an error, sparked the three-run fifth.
“It’s kind of one of those situations where you just put the ball in play, and see what happens,” Hamilton said. “(Overstreet) was a great pitcher ... we finally settled down, and it became just another game.”
Hamilton said it’s “the hardest team to coach” because he has 13 talented players in the dugout.
His goals, well, they’ve changed up a bit.
“Is there a part of me that wants to win it all? Of course,” he said, “but I’m going to take it one game at a time.”
ASH. AMER. 100 033 — 7 8 1
MARION CO. 000 101 — 2 2 4
Robinson and Spears; Overstreet and Farris. W—Robinson. L—Overstreet. 2B—C. Cassidy (A), Latherow (A). 3B—Spears (A).